BIRGER KAIPIAINEN (1915-1988)

Birger Kaipiainen was Finland’s foremost ceramic artist of the midcentury period, whose unique style gave him world renown. His unique works are acclaimed collector’s pieces and his tableware designs from the 1960s are still in production.

Kaipiainen showed exceptional talent already as a student at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. Following his studies, he joined Arabia’s art department at twenty-two, and was given complete freedom to develop his artistry. He has been described as “quiet and dreaming”, and his personality is certainly expressed in his imaginative, etheral creations. He had suffered from polio at a young age, and its effects prevented him from making thrown work. This was something that likely led him find his own expression, which stands in contrast to the often stark creations of his contemporaries like Toini Muona and Rut Bryk. During the 1940s he worked with large plaques with flowing edges and romantic themes inspired by the medieval, Rococo and Renaissance periods. In the 1950s he created stylized birds and human figures, while later in the 1960s developing large series of unique plates with striking ornaments in a lush Baroque style. He had a profound knowledge of ceramic techniques as well as of glazes and used careful techniques to maintain the innate glow of pigments as they made their way through the kiln.

Birger Kaipianen worked at Arabia during his entire career, from 1937 to 1988, with a four year stint at Rörstrand between 1954 and 1958. Among his numerous awards are Dimplôme d’Honneur in Milan in 1951, Grand Prix in Milan in 1960, the Pro Finlandia award in 1963 and Prins Eugen medal in 1982.

Litterature: ”Ceramic Art in Finland, A Contemporary Tradition”, Edited by Åsa Hellman, Otava Publishing Company Ltd, Finland, 2004